Electronic records 'risk damaging interaction with patients'

Greater use of electronic records risks harming the patient-doctor relationship by distracting GPs from patients' concerns, experts warn.

Electronic records are disrupting consultations, researchers say
Electronic records are disrupting consultations, researchers say

Electronic patient records are being widely adopted in the NHS, and health secretary Jeremy Hunt has promised a paperless health service by 2018.

But writing in the journal Seizure, Merran Toerien PhD at the University of York said the demands of the records had 'come to be prioritised over the needs of the patient'.

Studies of video-recorded GP consultations showed that doctors often delayed responding to patients until they had finished inputting information into the computer. Patients also avoided talking when it might have interrupted a doctor's typing.

Dr Toerien said areas in the QOF were 'often privileged above patients' more immediate concerns'.

However, there are many examples of effective use of electronic records, she said, where doctors and nurses are able to successfully integrate the computer into the consultation. For instance, some avoid using the computer until the latter stages of the consultation, or encourage the patient to collaborate in recording their data.

Dr Toerien called for the design of electronic records and training for users to be more sensitive to the impact on the doctor-patient relationship.

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